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Monday, December 31, 2012

Worst Hollywood Flop Of 2012

We've talked about a lot of high-profile flops this year, some that made us sad and some that just made us laugh. But none of them came close to the spectacularly low box-office numbers of this horror flick, which earned less than $300 (no, that's not a typo) in its box-office run.

Playback is a small horror flick (with a budget estimated at only about $7.5 million) about an evil force that's able to possess its victims through video playback (sound familiar, Ring fans?) and threatens to reveal dark secrets in a Michigan town. It starred Christian Slater and co-starred the likes of Caprica's Alessandra Torresani. Despite a couple of semi-big names, the film grossed only $264 theatrically. Yes, you're still reading that right. No zeroes after that. Just three figures.

So why'd the flick tank so badly? Well, some of it has to do with a very limited box-office run. The film was only available in a single U.S. theater, for one week, and after earning $252 on opening weekend it took in only $12 more in the remaining days of its run (which might explain why that run was so short). Based on average U.S. ticket prices, The Daily Mail calculated that the movie was seen theatrically by only about 33 people.

That's a sad distinction to have, but at least Playback is now on DVD, where more people can spend a little money and make it seem less sad. Have you seen the flick? Were you one of the illustrious 33 to see it in its very limited theatrical run? Are you itching to watch it just to see if it deserved to earn so little money?

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New Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters Trailer

Jeremy Renner trades in arrows for a shotgun in Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters, where the Avengers actor and former Bond girl Gemma Arterton star as the famous title characters. They appear in a new trailer, which proves this isn't your grandma's version of the fairy tale.

Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters is a graphic adaptation that takes place 15 years after the siblings' kidnapping. After fighting off their evil captor, they developed "a taste for witch blood." They want to rid the world of the creatures, one kill at a time.

The duo lend their expertise to a village, which becomes ravaged by the supernatural. Among them is the witch (played by X-Men's Famke Janssen) that tried to kill them years ago. But Hansel and Gretel have revenge on the brain. They're sure to leave blood and guts in their wake as they try to defeat her once and for all.

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Top 15 Films Of 2012. That's Right 15

In a year that saw some of the worst films ever, 2012 also brought us some of the most memorable. But how do you reduce a list from 65 to just 10 - you add five more! Yes, SJF brought you an amazing 65 reviews in 2012 - how do I still have eyes after seeing that many? In short, there were so many good films that a top 10 just felt too small.

I know that some of you might not agree with what you're about to see, but that's the great thing about 'best-of' lists: they should generate discussion and thoughtful consideration, while ultimately encouraging you to either catch a hidden gem for the first time, or to relive the moment when one became a favorite.

We've been building this list all year, with some films receiving a last-minute bump or demotion based on their release date or a recent revisiting. To be clear, we include films that probably won't even be nominated for an Oscar, either because of their subject matter or their poor performance at theaters. We also skipped those that saw limited time in theaters, such as The Raid: Redemption. Granted, that film kicks ass, but we never got to see it on the big screen. Our list is generated on factors such as memorability, quality, and a completely selfish desire of whether we would pay to buy it or care to watch it again. Allow the chastising to commence!


15. Les Miserables (Dir.Tom Hooper)

Plot: In 19th-century France, Jean Valjean, who for decades has been hunted by the ruthless policeman Javert after he breaks parole, agrees to care for factory worker Fantine's daughter, Cosette. The fateful decision changes their lives forever. (via IMDB) Why We Like It: The late-entry musical about 19th Century revolutionary France was expertly shot on a grand scale, and features several incredible performances by Hugh Jackman, Amanda Seyfried, and Anne Hathaway, all who should receive Oscar nominations. And while the runtime is a bit long and the film is almost entirely singing, that doesn't mean you should skip Les Mis.


14. The Dark Knight Rises (Dir. Christopher Nolan)

Plot: Eight years on, a new terrorist leader, Bane, overwhelms Gotham's finest, and the Dark Knight resurfaces to protect a city that has branded him an enemy. (via IMDB) Why We Like It: This film created deep divisions among long-time Batman fans, some who felt Nolan's final entry in the series to be too long or not quite to canon, while others praised it as the year's best. The big surprise is Anne Hathaway, who had an amazing 2012 - her performance as Catwoman went far beyond the skin-tight outfit and stiletto boots. She encompassed the role with a slow-burning sultriness that still holds up well. What doesn't hold up is Tom Hardy's hard-to-understand Bane. It's not as exciting or engrossing as the excellent The Dark Knight, but Hathaway's performance is almost worth the price of admission.


13. The Raven (Dir. James McTeigue)

Plot: When a madman begins committing horrific murders inspired by Edgar Allan Poe's works, a young Baltimore detective joins forces with Poe to stop him from making his stories a reality. (via IMDB) Why We Like It: Granted, we're not talking about a Lincoln-esque bopic here, but John Cusack and Luke Evans are terrific, while Ben Livingston and Hannah Shakespeare write a compelling script filled with plenty of Poe-esque macabre. It's a fun ride, provided you take its many historical inaccuracies for what they're worth.


12. Total Recall (Dir. Lee Wiseman)

Plot: A factory worker, Douglas Quaid, begins to suspect that he is a spy after visiting Rekall - a company that provides its clients with implanted fake memories of a life they would like to have led - goes wrong and he finds himself on the run. (via IMDB) Why We Like It: While our good friends at The Arnold Fans might cringe at the following, believe me when I tell you that the Schwarzenegger re-make is really good. Beckinsdale is her usually bad-ass, while Colin Ferrell plays desperate-spy-doesn't-know-he's-one very well. Take a moment to check out both versions on the Blu-ray - you'll see how Wiseman's story morphed through the creative process.


11. Contraband (Dir. Baltasar Kormákur)

Plot: To protect his brother-in-law from a drug lord, a former smuggler heads to Panama to score millions of dollars in counterfeit bills. (via IMDB) Why We Like It: While Beckinsale turns in another great performance, we have to give props to Mark Wahlberg, who's becoming quite the exceptional actor. Kormákur creates a gritty smuggler tale that proves your friends and enemies aren't too far apart. There's surprises right up to the end, which is an aspect of film that never gets old.


10. Men in Black 3 (Dir. Barry Sonnenfeld)

Plot: Agent J travels in time to M.I.B.'s early days in 1969 to stop an alien from assassinating his friend Agent K and changing history. (via IMDB) Why We Like It: Once thought left for dead, the MIB series is back in a big way, as Will Smith and Tyommy Lee Jones act like the last 10 years since MIB2 weren't really that long. They have a special chemistry that Sonnenfeld uses to perfection, creating one of the big surprises of 2012. Let's hope we don't have to wait 10 years before the fourth installment arrives.


9. Argo (Dir. Ben Affleck)

Plot: A dramatization of the 1980 joint CIA-Canadian secret operation to extract six fugitive American diplomatic personnel out of revolutionary Iran. (via IMDB) Why We Like It: In another example of something lost in Hollywood being found, Ben Affleck a smart pseudo-spy movie that's a little funny when it should be, but never missing out on the seriousness of the events it portrays. John Goodman and Alan Arkin turn in great performances as the Hollywood men in charge of selling Argo's sizzle. Welcome back to the tribe, Ben.


8. The Grey (Dir. Joe Carnahan)

Plot: After their plane crashes in Alaska, six oil workers are led by a skilled huntsman to survival, but a pack of merciless wolves haunts their every step. (via IMDB) Why We Like It: Carnahan directs a masterful albeit very intense portrayal of what must go through people's minds as they approach a violent death. Liam Neeson and cast take their own personal journeys as they meet their ends, making each death that much more convincing. I don't know if I could watch this film for another year - based on its intensity - but that doesn't mean it should be ignored. Let's hope the Oscar nomination committee gives The Grey the chance it deserves!


7. Ted (Dir. Seth MacFarlane)

See entire list after the Jump...


Plot: As the result of a childhood wish, John Bennett's teddy bear, Ted, came to life and has been by John's side ever since - a friendship that's tested when Lori, John's girlfriend of four years, wants more from their relationship. (via IMDB) Why We Like It: in one of the most surprising and definitely the funniest film of the year, Mark Wahlberg and Seth MacFarlane have created an instant classic. Ted is new-century outrageousness at its core, but with an 80's feel. Check out the hotel fight as just one of many hilarious examples of Ted's supreme ass-kicking. Patrick Stewart does the naughty narration while Mila Kunis just tries to hold the ship together. Well done, boys (and girl)!



6. Safe House (Dir. Daniel Espinosa)

Plot: A young CIA agent is tasked with looking after a fugitive in a safe house. But when the safe house is attacked, he finds himself on the run with his charge. (via IMDB) Why We Like It: In a year filled with gritty realistic dramas, Safe House is among this year's best. Denzel Washington plays the moralistically ambiguous CIA spy with usual perfection, while Ryan Reynolds proves he still has the acting chops to take on serious roles. From nearly the first scene, Espinoza weaves a tale of deceit, carnage, and intense action that you'll buy into the moment things begin to heat up. If you missed Safe House, you owe to yourself to check it out.


5. Looper (Dir. Rian Johnson)

Plot: In 2074, when the mob wants to get rid of someone, the target is sent 30 years into the past, where a hired gun awaits. Someone like Joe, who one day learns the mob wants to 'close the loop' by transporting back Joe's future self. (via IMDB) Why We Like It: Among the great surprises of 2012, Looper sets the standard for telling convincing stories about time travel. It takes the great concepts covered in so many original Star Trek episdoes, with a plot that keeps you thinking right up to the end. Bruce Willis and Emily Blunt are great, but it's Joseph-Gordon Levitt who absolutely owns this film. You'll hate him at first, but love the transition he makes as his world gets turned upside down. Add a great child actor who doesn't have the typical whininess factor into the mix, and Looper is a film not to be missed


4. Skyfall (Dir. Sam Mendes)

Plot: Bond's loyalty to M is tested as her past comes back to haunt her, bringing MI6 under attack. (via IMDB) Why We Like It: Forget what you know about Bond - Skyfall takes the last 50 years of Bond and brings it back to its origins. An engrossing spy story that focuses on the craft over the tech, Daniel Craig and Judi Dench turn in masterful performances. But it goes far beyond that - Skyfall is so good because it encompasses everything that spy films and their characters have dreamed of becoming, ever mindful of its roots but willing to break all the rules along the way. Perhaps the best villain of the year is Javier Bardem, whose portrayal of former MI6 agent Silva is downright creepy. Credit Sam Mendes for turning the Bond world on its ear. It's one of the year's best.


3. Moonrise Kingdom (Dir. Wes Anderson)

Plot: A pair of young lovers flee their New England town, which causes a local search party to fan out and find them (via IMDB) Why We Like It: Definitely the surprise film of the year, Anderson weaves a funny, warm, and engaging tale filled with top-name credentials like Bruce Willis and Edward Norton. Anderson creates an environment that engages us from the moment Bob Balaban begins his narration. It's a unique film to be sure, but you'll love the experience which Anderson and his troupe weave. Take a chance on this one.


2. Lincoln (Dir. Steven Spielberg)

Plot: As the Civil War continues to rage, America's president struggles with continuing carnage on the battlefield and as he fights with many inside his own cabinet on the decision to emancipate the slaves. (via IMDB) Why We Like It: In what better be an Oscar-winning performance, Daniel Day-Lewis turns in the best performance of the year as the 16th president. He captures every aspect of Lincoln, from his strange walk to his raspy voice. Spielberg gives Lewis a standout team of supporting actors, with Sally Field turning in yet another career-defining performance as Mary Todd. The best part of Lincoln is also its worst, as we know his victory will soon be overshadowed by his tragic assassination. There are historical dramas, and then there's Lincoln. Enough said.


1. The Avengers (Dir. Joss Whedon)

Plot: Nick Fury of S.H.I.E.L.D. brings together a team of super humans to form The Avengers to help save the Earth from Loki and his army. (via IMDB) Why We Like It: My nerdiness knows no bounds, but when a film like The Avengers comes out, you can't help but let your bad side out. Years in the making, with a list of great films behind it, this film immediately draws you in with its quick wit, a terrific bad guy in Tom Hiddleston's Loki, and an end credits scene that brings Thanos to life. There are few films which I can call 'perfect' (Casblanca and Star Wars come to mind), and now The Avengers joins that elite club. Joss Whedon's absolute respect for comic book movies shines in every scene, reminding us how great movies can still be. You have our respect now, Mr. Whedon.

What were your top movies of 2012?

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First 4 Minutes From Warm Bodies

Thanks to Fandango we have the first 4 minutes for the upcoming film Warm Bodies.

Warm Bodies, directed by 50/50’s Jonathan Levine, finds zombie R (Nicholas Hoult) un-living in a world where the undead outnumber the living. He and his rotting contemporaries regularly raid the fugitive pockets of human survivors, lured by their warm, fleshy delights and focused on eating their brains.

But on one of the scouting missions, R meets and engages with Julie (Teresa Palmer) and something unusual happens: R starts to feel something. Could it be that his lingering humanity is starting to return as he tentatively tries to woo this woman? And what will the rest of his zombie brethren think, including best friend M (Rob Corddry)?

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Dead Man Down Trailer Starring Rapace & Farrell

Since they worked together on the original version of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, star Noomi Rapace has seen her career spark in Hollywood, while director Niels Arden Oplev has mostly worked on TV projects and developing other movies. Now they’ve reunited – and pulled in Colin Farrell and Terrence Howard – for revenge thriller Dead Man Down, which has just put its first trailer online.

Farrell plays Victor, the right hand man to an underground New York crime lord (Howard). When he’s spotted killing on the job by Rapace’s damaged Beatrice, she reaches out to him.

See, she’s been the victim of one of Howard’s actions and she’s burning with vengeance. So she blackmails Victor (who has his own reasons to be angry with Howard) and has him start to take down his boss’s operations. Which naturally leads to more trouble than either of them expect…

The trailer, which also gives us a glimpse of co-star Dominic Cooper in a action, runs a little long and gives a lot away, but it certainly appears to point to a film that may have more on its mind than the usual action output of producer Neal Moritz.

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Win Tickets to An Advance Screening For NOT FADE AWAY In Sacramento

Win your tickets to see an advance screening for NOT FADE AWAY! The screening is on Wednesday, January 2nd @ 7:00PM at Century Greenback In Sacramento.


NOT FADE AWAY, the widely anticipated feature film debut from The Sopranos creator David Chase is an ode to the transformative power of rock ‘n’ roll. In 1964, the Rolling Stones appear on television and three best friends from the suburbs of New Jersey decide to form a rock band. The film stars John Magaro, Jack Huston, Will Brill, Bella Heathcote, Brad Garrett, Christopher McDonald and James Gandolfini.


The film’s forthcoming soundtrack on ABKCO Records chronicles the sounds that inspired a generation to pursue dreams of rock stardom and glory. The soundtrack, set for digital release on December 18th, will be available at iTunes and all other digital download stores. Not Fade Away, a Paramount Vantage film, opens in select theaters on December 21st, 2012.


NO PURCHASE NECESSARY 

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Official Website-

See how to win tickets after the Jump...

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DISCLAIMER: ARRIVE EARLY! SEATING IS FIRST-COME, FIRST-SERVED, EXCEPT FOR MEMBERS OF THE REVIEWING PRESS. THEATER IS OVERBOOKED TO ENSURE A FULL HOUSE. THEATRE IS NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR OVERBOOKING. THIS PASS DOES NOT GUARANTEE ADMISSION AND MUST BE SURRENDERED UPON DEMAND. NO ONE WILL BE ADMITTED WITHOUT A TICKET AND ONLY REVIEWING PRESS WILL BE ADMITTED AFTER THE SCREENING BEGINS. Duplicate passes will not be accepted. Screening passes are non transferable. This ticket is NOT for resale. Reselling of tickets is strictly prohibited and punishable by law. All those found in violation will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. MPAA - No Recording This screening will be monitored for unauthorized recording. By attending, you agree not to bring any audio and/or visual recording device including laptop computers into the theater and you consent to physical search of have against you. Unauthorized recording will be reported to law enforcement and may subject you to criminal and civil liability (including damages up to $150,000). *This includes, by way of example only, smart phones and your belongings and person for such device. If you attempt to enter with a recording device, you will be denied admission. If you attempt to use a recording device*, you consent to your Immediate removal from the theater and forfeiture of the device.

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Tarantino Talks Killer Crow

With his latest, slave-turned-bounty hunter vengeance quest Django Unchained, in American cinemas over Christmas, Quentin Tarantino has naturally been busy on the promotional trail. Talking about the film, he’s revealed that his previous release, Inglourious Basterds, may spawn what could become the third part of a trilogy featuring some unused script material.

Tarantino has talked in the past about having lots of material leftover when he converted the long-gestating passion project between a briefly planned miniseries version into the cinematic incarnation that finally reached cinemas.

Now he says he’s considering a third revisionist history film to stand alongside Django and the Basterds, this time spotlighting characters originally intended to feature in stories running alongside those of Brad Pitt’s Lt. Aldo Raines and his squad.

"My original idea for Inglourious Basterds way back when was that this would be a huge story that included the smaller story that you saw in the film, but also followed a bunch of black troops, and they had been f***ed over by the American military and kind of go apeshit," Tarantino tells The Root.

"They basically – the way Lt. Aldo Raines and the Basterds are having an 'Apache resistance' – the black troops go on an Apache warpath and kill a bunch of white soldiers and white officers on a military base and are just making a warpath to Switzerland."

Tentatively titled Killer Crow (though that may well change), the material as it stands would currently make for about half a film, and, if it happens would be set in 1944 following the Allied landings. Naturally, QT has a lot of projects on the go, and this one might have to wait its turn if it goes ahead at all.

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The Most Disappointing Movies Of 2012

This year – perhaps more than any other in film history – has given us some of the best and most disappointing/terrible films of all time. Perhaps it's the media machine that seems to make every movie look like the second coming of Jesus, or Moses, or William Shatner. Those lofty expectations certainly held up with The Avengers; but there were also a healthy share of films that left us unfulfilled, like my oft-used prom queen analogy, who fails to put out after a night of courting and outright begging for something magical to occur.

Maybe you liked Prometheus even after a preview that looked so amazing. That's fair. No matter where you stand, here's SJF's most disappointing releases – because we love to rub Hollywood's screw ups in their faces.

Just so we're clear, the word 'disappointing' refers to: Films that were highly anticipated, either for their casting/director or because the previews suggested a much better film than we actually got, either in terms of product or lack of delivery at the box office.


Prometheus (Budget: $130 million; Box Office $129 million) -

Prometheus Movie Review

As if the forces of nature were conspiring against it, Prometheus came in with such high expectations, especially after a series of compelling trailers that fired up the enthusiasm of fans still stinging from Alien vs. Predator. Filled with an excellent cast, but missing a true lead at its center, Prometheus pondered many questions but delivered few answers. Director Ridley Scott showed us he still has the eye for creating great shots, and Michael Fassbender was creepy cool; but poorly-used Idris Elba, Charlize Theron, and Guy Pearce seemed out of place from the start. Noomi Rapace might need to be recast if this franchise is to recapture the intensity which Signorney Weaver brought. Here's hoping Prometheus 2 is more compelling. 


The Bourne Legacy (Budget: $125 million; Box Office: $113 million) -

THE BOURNE LEGACY Review

For a franchise that's done...well absolutely everything...to action films (see James Bond, Jack Reacher, blah blah blah),and sporting the writer of the first three as its director, and starring Jeremy Renner and Rachel Weisz, it seemed like The Bourne Legacy was in good hands. Not so much. After a beginning that put many to sleep with its dull Outcome plot line, Legacy delivered only a minimum amount of the goods, with few memorable action set pieces and several stiff performances. I still think this franchise has value, but they'll have to go farther with the whole 'government wants all its agents to die' plots if they hope to resurrect this once-great series. I can't believe I'm saying this, but is Bourne a goner?


The Amazing Spider-man (Budget: $230 million; Box Office: $262 million) -

The Amazing Spider-Man Review

In a year that saw the greatest superhero film of all time (no, it's not The Dark Knight Rises), The Amazing Spider-man felt long, poorly planned, and even unnecessary. Granted, director Mark Webb returned Peter Parker to many of his comic roots, but the end result didn't impress. Perhaps the best part is the stunning Emma Stone, who stole most scenes as the booted Gwen Stacy. That's where the film's positives ended. I never felt Spider-man was portrayed as an effective hero next to the gravitas of Rhys Ifans as The Lizard. And the end credits scene felt like it was conceived on the spot, almost as an after-thought. Even though the film made a profit, the Sony team will have to get its act together to prove they have the brains to keep this franchise. Better yet, just give it back to Marvel and call it a day...


The Dark Knight Rises (Budget: $250 million; Box Office: $448 million) -

THE DARK KNIGHT RISES Review

See the whole list after the Jump...

Now before you find me at the local Mongolian BBQ and put a chopstick through my eye, I must warn you I wear glasses. After the brilliant Dark Knight, this installment felt was entirely too long, with a lead baddie in Bane that wasn't even close to canon. It also didn't help that I couldn't hear Tom Hardy without assistive hearing devices. While director Christopher Nolan should be given credit for trying to tie up loose ends, his action scenes were stolid and undynamic, failing to keep our eye with too many fast edits and shots above the waist. Speaking of below the waist, Anne Hathaway will probably ascend to the Oscar stage for Les Miserables, but I hope few forget her terrific portrayal as Catwoman. Those boots be rockin'...too bad the rest of the movie wasn't. INSERT PAGE BREAK



Brave (Budget: $185 million; Box Office: $237 million) -

BRAVE Review

Nowhere near as good as its exceptional previews suggested, Brave isn't even my third or fourth favorite animated film of 2012. The only redeeming part of this bore-fest was the mother/independent daughter angle, which I'm sure appealed to the female part of the audience. This is certainly not a Disney classic, although its box office performance might suggest otherwise - still, Disney did break new ground with an animation style that could set the stage for the next round of classics. This franchise has the potential - the question is whether Disney still has a good story to tell.


The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (Budget: N/A; Box Office: $179 million at the time of this article) -

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Review

Was Peter Jackson smoking Middle-Earth peyote when he conjured a follow-up to the hugely successful Lord of the Rings trilogy? There was good buzz surrounding the script as well as all the returning actors who had signed on. But then came word that Jackson was extending his film to a longer runtime; soon, we heard of a second film, which was then quickly upgraded to a trilogy. Add to that the changes made to Thorin's character, and the appearance of the goon albino Orc Azog, and The Hobbit is the exact definition of a disappointment - too much expectation (and with good reason) heaped upon this project, that no 48fps release or bloated script could satisfy. And even with so much against it, The Hobbit wasn't terrible. It just failed to match up in most ways to its predecessors, which an entire generation of young people will query as to why Jackson pulled a George Lucas in the first place. Get the white board out for that one.

Do you have a 'most disappointing' list to share with us? Post it below.

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Wednesday, December 26, 2012

J.J. Abrams Turned Down Star Wars

Lifelong Star Wars fan J.J. Abrams will remain just that.

Colin Trevorrow Tiptoes Around 'Star Wars' Speculation, Looks to the Future The writer-director-producer, who has pumped blood into the second iteration of the Mission: Impossible series and fully revived Star Trek for the big screen, told Empire magazine that while he met with new series producer Kathleen Kennedy about involvement in Star Wars: Episode VII, he decided against hopping aboard.

"There were the very early conversations, and I quickly said that, because of my loyalty to Star Trek and also just being a fan, I wouldn't even want to be involved in the next version of those things," he told the magazine. "I declined any involvement very early on. I'd rather be in the audience not knowing what was coming, rather than being involved in the minutiae of making them."

Abrams has said that while he grew up as a major Star Wars fan, he was not particularly in love with Star Trek, which made it easier to reboot the saga -- which now stars Chris Pine as Captain Kirk and Zachary Quinto as Spock -- for the 21st century.

His next Trek movie, Star Trek Into Darkness, is set to hit theaters in June. The first film, released in 2009, took in $385 million worldwide.

As for Star Wars, it has been announced that Toy Story 3 scribe Michael Arndt, who won an Oscar for Little Miss Sunshine, will write Episode VII, while Lawrence Kasdan -- who wrote The Empire Strikes Back -- and Simon Kinberg will write new installments, as well.

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CIRQUE DU SOLEIL Review. Circus On Crack

CIRQUE DU SOLEIL: WORLDS AWAY 3D Review
By: RAMA

Rama comes in with another review.


CIRQUE DU SOLEIL: WORLDS AWAY 3D is like Circus on crack. What a spellbinding visual splendor of a joyride! You won’t believe your eyes! You’re going to be bombarded with so many colors, stunning stage spectacles, creative transitions and clever choreographies, that you may get brain freeze by the time this film or should I say attraction, ends…

A young woman is entranced by an Aerialist. When they fall into the dreamlike world of Cirque du Soleil and are separated, they travel through the different tent worlds trying to find each other.


When I first saw footage and clips of this film, months ago, I thought it was just another effort by 3D preacher James Cameron to try and jam 3D down our throats again, but I was willing to give it a shot, because I’ve always been a big fan of Cirque Du Soleil, although the only show of theirs I’ve ever watched was Zumanity in Las Vegas. But these guys are extraordinary athletic, I think each of them could get a gold medal if they ever complete in the Olympics for the gymnastic rounds. What makes CIRQUE DU SOLEIL world renown is that they always bring something new to the table, there’s always an acrobat or a movement that’s just groundbreaking and never been seen before and only they can pull it off. In many ways, it’s like watching an elaborate magic trick from a grand illusionist, and that’s exactly what this film accomplishes.


The story by writer/director Andrew Adamson, may be thin but I think even he understands that audiences aren’t too concerned about the plot or whether or not the cute girl would be reunited with her Aeralist crush, just as long as they and the rest of the crew put on a good show. For the sake of the story, there’s even protagonist and antagonist but in between you get lots of interesting colorful characters that may or may not have any connection to the story but the acts that they can do will blow your mind. There’s one segment involving a lady inside a giant bowl of water, and that’s the only vicinity that she worked in, the way the camera capture her every movement just took my breath away. How the film combines natural elements with practical effects is a treat, the 3D effects puts your senses to a whole other test. The film even pays tribute to the old classic circus tent and carnival that some of us grew up with. Though at times it does move and feel like some kind of national geographic documentary.

But CIRQUE DU SOLEIL: WORLDS AWAY 3D is for those of us who can’t afford the expensive tickets to see them perform live in Vegas. You can now enjoy the incredible wonder at the comfort of your local 3D theaters.

GRADE: 4 out of 5

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Trailer For Eli Roth's Aftershock

Here is the first trailer for Aftershock, which boasts Roth starring, co-writing and producing (but leaving the director’s chair to co-writer Nicolas Lopez) finds the Hostel man as a bloke looking for some fun in Chile.

The traveler is introduced to a cool underground nightclub where the booze flows, the music plays and the ceiling suddenly collapses. That last part isn’t actually one of the club’s selling points, as a deadly earthquake has hit the place.

And that’s the least of the problems – when our hero and his surviving friends make it out of the subterranean death trap, they discover that the local prison was damaged by the trembler and the prisoners have taken their chance to go full Andy Dufresne. Except instead of making for a beach on the coast of Zihuatanejo, the cons are roving the streets killing people.

Who will survive? And what will be left of them? Only the film can answer that. Roth’s co-stars include Selena Gomez, Ariel Levy, Andrea Osvart and Lorenza Izzo.

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Sharlto Copley As Kruger From Elysium

First look at  Sharlto Copley in Neill ‘District 9’ Blomkamp's upcoming dystopian epic ElysiumCopley will be playing the film’s villain Kruger.

Elysium is set in the year 2159, and pits the oppressed people of the ruined planet Earth against the privileged elite aboard the Elysium space station. Matt Damon is ex-convict man-on-a-mission Max, fighting with the Terrans for equality, and Jodie Foster is the dastardly government official intent on enforcing anti-immigration laws and keeping Elysium for the Elysians; Kruger is her relentless attack dog.

Reports over the summer seemed to suggest that Copley, who of course starred for Blomkamp in District 9, had one eye on Heath Ledger's Joker for the role of the black-ops military nutbag, but Copley tells Empire this was a misunderstanding. "The Joker was a mistaken reference," he says. "I was really just saying that that was the last time I saw a villain that inspired me: somebody that set the bar. There’s no connection or likeness to The Joker in terms of the character. What I did with him — which I try to do with all my original characters — was draw from real life. I combined references from a very infamous South African military battalion called 32 Battalion, that fought in the Border Wars in South Africa, and a stereotype of character that you get in the south of Johannesburg, where the guys are a little bit more comfortable with violence!"

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Parental Guidance Review. The Film Is A Victim Of The Times

Parental Guidance Review
By: MattInRC

The inoffensive but bland Parental Guidance is a nice throwback for families. And that's the problem.


There was a time when nice live-action family comedies ruled the movie theaters. Forget about well-made, Oscar nominated-fare - we're talking about films you could sit your kids in front of for a good laugh while still appealing to mom and dad with hidden sexual innuendos. Parenthood, Father of the Bride, Christmas Vacation, and Home Alone became instant classics that extended the careers of Steve Martin, Chevy Chase, and other mid-aged actors desperately looking for paychecks. Today, many of these films feel antiquated and down-right tedious with their gags falling flat and the cuteness factor reminding us of cheesy schmaltz. I'm not sure what has caused us to look so negatively at these used-to-be classics, but they've certainly not held up. Parental Guidance finds itself a potential victim of the times in which we live, an inoffensive but mostly bland production that would have been very funny back in 1992.


After Artie (Billy Crystal, When Harry Met Sally) loses his job announcing a minor league baseball team, he and wife Diane (Bette Midler, For the Boys) get a phone call from their daughter Alice (Marisa Tomei, The Wrestler) who needs the grandparents to watch their kids while she and husband Phil (Tom Everett Scott, That Thing You Do) accept an award in Atlanta. Artie and Diane are as old-school as they get, out of touch with modern society on every level and earning the moniker 'the other grandparents' from Diane. On the other extreme are Phil and Alice, whose 'helicopter' parental style has them absolutely involved in every aspect of their children's upbringing. This effort yields a stuttering Turner (Joshua Rush), a rambunctious Barker (Kyle Harrison Breitkopf), and the overachiever Turner (Bailee Madison). They're not allowed to eat sugar, and must say 3 nice things when in an argument. Thus, our generational dysfunction is set in motion, as Artie and Alice struggle to adapt with not only the kids but with Phli and Diane's ultra-modern house. As several manufactured deadlines present themselves, the multi-generational cast must work together to solve them without killing each other or getting arrested by the police.


Director Andy Fickman (Race to Witch Mountain) crafts a fairly uninspired concoction, with a tolerable outer skin that's mostly thin of imagination at its dull center. The script by Lisa Addario and Joe Syracuse (Surf's Up) feels dead on arrival, complete with a series of gags that would have been funny 20 years ago. Stipper poles for old people? Seen that before. Vomit and pee? That's so New Girl. Midler and Crystal are funny enough, and our young actors do a fair job squinting, shrugging, and smirking for the camera - but like every movie involving kids, their antics soon get old, leaving us to wish the grandparents would have employed the highly effective wooden spoon as a behavioral adjustment tool. Still, the film has its moments, such as Artie's efforts to get Barker to go #2 in a disgusting bathroom. There's also the surprising decision to deny Artie his dream job of announcing for the Giants, forced instead to tutor Turner with his aspirations of becoming an announcer himself. This would have been unthinkable in previous family movies, but it's good someone had the strength to insert it. But by the time we get there, we're no longer emotionally involved, content to let our three generations of family members enjoy the rest of their white-picket fence lives that seem so detached from our own.



Considering the vast amounts of schmaltz thrown into Guidance, one cannot help but draw comparisons to those 1990's Steve Martin comedies. And that's the problem, because we've become so desensitized in our comedic limits that Guidance just feels out of place. Hollywood has stooped so low that clean family films no longer seem to have a place. Had it come out 20 years ago, it might have been hailed as one of the great family films of that time. In ours however, it's slow, overly sentimental, and even tedious at points.11

Parental Guidance reminds us of what funny family films used to look like, but its execution fails on too many levels to recommend it. As the credits begin to roll, showing old photos of our actors and their families, we're reminded just how nice this film wants to be, but how utterly out of time it feels. If this film is meant to inspire better relationships with our grandparents, it could have done it so much better and still retain its PG rating. Given these shortcomings, I can't recommend it beyond a rainy-day video on the couch. Parental Guidance is rated PG for language and adult situations, and has a runtime of 104 minutes.

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Monday, December 24, 2012

HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON LIVE SPECTACULAR Coming To Sacramento January 3rd to 6th

DREAMWORKS’ HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON LIVE SPECTACULAR TICKETS TO SACRAMENTO STOP DATES ON SALE NOW!

Visit www.dreamworksdragonslive.com to purchase tickets.


Following critically acclaimed engagements in Australia, New Zealand, and the United States,  DREAMWORKS’ HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON LIVE SPECTACULAR continues to wow audiences across the US, setting a new standard for live entertainment. Here’s what critic Michael Grossberg of the Columbus Dispatch wrote about the show, which just played the Schottenstein Center this past weekend:


“Leavened with comedy and consistent thrills, the two-act production expertly adapts the popular 2010 3D DreamWorks Animation film based on the 2003 book. In some ways, the more dramatic fight, flight and chase sequences seem even more effective onstage because of the nearly seamless way the creative team blends the live action with giant cinematic projections on a large rear screen and larger football-field floor.” “Impressive effects and epic staging ensure that family audiences get their money’s worth”


“Kids of all ages were enraptured by dragons that fly, belch smoke, spout flames and purr with contentment when petted.” “The epic fantasia, in which the dragons just keep getting bigger until a true monster appears near the end, blends technology, cinema, theater, dance, music, pyrotechnics and much more . . . no one has attempted such a complex fusion of elements before in a show, especially on tour.” DREAMWORKS’ HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON LIVE SPECTACULAR will celebrate the 150th performance of its world tour on Saturday, October 27th in Milwaukee, Wisconsin at the Bradley Center.


Upcoming dates: 2012 
December 26-30 San Jose, CA HP Pavilion at San Jose 2013 
January 3-6 Sacramento, CA Powerbalance Pavilion 
January 10-13 Salt Lake City, UT EnergySolutions Arena 
January 17-20 Anaheim, CA Honda Center
Visit www.dreamworksdragonslive.com for on-sale dates and other ticket information.


Created by the studio that brought us blockbuster hits such as Shrek and Madagascar, The HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON LIVE SPECTACULAR was produced by the storytellers at DreamWorks Animation, and Global Creatures, the masterminds behind the international phenomenon Walking with Dinosaurs, the #1 grossing world tour of 2010. The tour is exclusively promoted by S2BN Entertainment.


Inspired by the hit movie How To Train Your Dragon, this live event is a never-before-seen production that audiences of all ages will never forget. HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON LIVE SPECTACULAR features more than a dozen dragons, some with wingspans of up to 46 feet, Viking warriors and world-class circus artists and acrobats combined with a heartwarming story that truly delivers a once-in-a-lifetime experience for the entire family.

Fire-breathing action, epic adventure and heartfelt laughter come together in a captivating story set in the mythical world of Vikings and wild dragons. Based on the book by Cressida Cowell, it centers on Hiccup, a Viking teenager who doesn’t fit in with his tribe’s longstanding tradition of heroic dragon slayers. Hiccup’s world is turned upside down when he encounters a dragon that challenges him and his fellow Vikings to see the world from an entirely different point of view.

Sponsored by HP, HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON LIVE SPECTACULAR is brought to life through state-of-the-art technology unlike anything ever seen before in a live event experience. Through DreamWorks Animation’s ongoing strategic relationship with HP, HP technology is part of the digital backbone for the production, providing family audiences across the globe with the most captivating live entertainment possible.

HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON LIVE SPECTACULAR breaks every rule of theatrical entertainment to fully immerse audiences into the show in ways that have not been attempted before. Barely contained within the arena, HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON LIVE SPECTACULAR utilizes the full venue,maximizing every dimension of the performance space to transport audiences into a mythical world of fire-breathing dragons who soar overhead at great speeds. The state-of-the-art animatronic technology and large-scale cinematic projections interact seamlessly with the live actors, who bring DreamWorks Animation’s heart-warming story to life through theatrical storytelling, martial arts and acrobatics.

Young Hollywood actor Riley Miner, an accomplished dancer and musical theater performer, will play the lead role of Hiccup. Joining Miner to share the role of Hiccup is Rarmian Newton, who won a Helpmann Award for his performance in the Australian production of Billy Elliot The Musical (2008). American stunt performer Gemma Nguyen, a third degree Black Belt and six-time world champion in Tae Kwon Do, plays Astrid. Sharing the role of Astrid is Queenslander Sarah McCreanor who has starred in her own comedic productions and performed in a range of musicals and comedy shows. Stalwart Australian actor Robert Morgan plays Stoick, Hiccup’s father and the rough and ready old-school chieftain of the brawny Viking tribe. American Will Watkins will star as Gobber; French Kung Fu champion and stuntman Godefroy Ryckewaert plays Snotlout and Texan hip-hop dancer and rapper Dexter Mayfield will play Fishlegs. Australian hip-hop and break-dancer Virackhaly Ngeth has been cast as Ruffnut and Sydney break-dancer Frace Luke Mercado, a founding member of SKB (Street Kulture Breakers), as Tuffnut.

The cast of performers is assisted by an international technical team who has collectively created many of the world’s most memorable spectacles. The team is led by award-winning director Nigel Jamieson, who won the 2011 Helpmann Award as Best Director for his production of Opera Australia’s La Fanciulla del West, as well as production designer Peter England and costume / projection designer Dan Potra. The dragons themselves are created by Sonny Tilders and his team at The Creature Technology Company, whose work includes Walking With Dinosaurs – the Arena Spectacular. The cast of dragons pays homage to all of the favorites from the DreamWorks Animation film, including the single largest animatronic creature ever made by The Creature Technology Company. The stunning score features compositions from Icelandic singer-songwriter Jonsi from Sigur Ros and Oscar-nominated British film composer John Powell, who created the original score for the feature film.

DREAMWORKS ANIMATION 

DreamWorks Animation creates high-quality entertainment, including CG animated feature films, television specials and series, live entertainment properties and online virtual worlds, meant for audiences around the world. DreamWorks Animation is the largest animation studio in the world and has released 23 animated feature films, which have enjoyed both critical and commercial successes. These include the franchise properties of Shrek, Madagascar, Kung Fu Panda and How to Train Your Dragon. DreamWorks Animation became the first studio to produce all of its feature films in 3D and in 2010 became the first Company to release three CG feature films in 3D in a single year. The Company has been named one of the “100 Best Companies to Work For” by FORTUNE® Magazine for four consecutive years. In 2012, DreamWorks Animation ranks #14 on the list. DreamWorks Theatricals was established by DreamWorks Animation in 2007 to develop and produce live stage and arena show productions inspired by the Company’s franchise properties. DreamWorks Theatricals productions are guided by much of the creative leadership team that develops the studio’s award-winning feature films.

GLOBAL CREATURES

Global Creatures is an international entertainment group that develops new and exciting theatrical productions to take to audiences around the world. The animatronics arm, The Creature Technology Company, invents and deploys the latest in animatronic design. Their hugely successful production Walking with Dinosaurs – The Arena Spectacular, based on the award winning BBC TV series, represents a new entertainment genre all on its own. The production is a spectacle of unprecedented size and quality, which captivates young and old alike. The Walking with Dinosaurs tour was the number one tour worldwide in 2010. Global Creatures has announced King Kong – Live on Stage, which will be produced in co-operation with the estate of “Kong” creator Merian C. Cooper. Global Creatures and Bazmark (the multi-media company founded and owned by Baz Luhrmann and Catherine Martin) have announced a partnership to produce a stage musical adaptation of the first movie of Baz Luhrmann’s ground-breaking Red Curtain Trilogy, Strictly Ballroom.

S2BN ENTERTAINMENT

S2BN is an entertainment company specializing in the production of family oriented shows for theatres and arenas. Currently, S2BN has three successful shows in operation, the record breaking smash hit Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark on Broadway, Rock of Ages now in its 4th year on Broadway, recently opened in London, touring throughout North America and on June 1st, 2012 a major Warner Brother Picture Release, and thirdly, Fuerza Bruta, also in11 its 5th year in New York and touring throughout the world. For 30+ years S2BN’s leadership have been dominant and innovative forces in the international concert touring industry, working in exclusive partnerships with renowned, global artist such as The Rolling Stones, Barbra Streisand, U2 and Pink Floyd amongst many others. In that time they have also created and/or promoted a wide range of unique family entertainment attractions in tennis, figure skating, motorsports, boxing and wrestling as well as theatre, opera and symphony.

RZO DRAGON PRODUCTIONS 

The RZO Companies group was formed on July 1, 1988 through the merger of Sound Advice, Inc. and Joseph Rascoff & Company, Inc. by their principals William Zysblat and Joseph Rascoff, respectively. For over twenty-five years, RZO and its predecessor organizations have been actively involved in the music business as tour producers and full-service business managers. RZO has represented such illustrious music artists as Rolling Stones, David Bowie, Sting, U2, The Police, Luis Miguel, Patti LaBelle, David Byrne and many others. The Company also represents personalities such as Carson Daly and Iman, along with the Estates of John Lennon and Ira and George Gershwin.

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